Sifting Through Downtown AthensPosted: February 21, 2012
A vintage Lacoste sweater; $13, two pairs of gently used designer jeans; $22, A Louis Vuitton wallet; $25, spending your Saturday sifting through the never ending shelves and booths of a consignment shop with your best friend; priceless.
More and more shoppers in Athens and around the nation choose to shop at consignment shops and gently used shops such as Goodwill, Plato’s Closet, and various smaller consignment shops in the downtown area instead of buying clothes new.
Consignment shops are places where the owner meets with different buyers and looks through their pieces to decide what they want to use to sell. Some consignment shops allow everyday people to come in and sell their clothes to the store for cash or store credit.
In the downtown Athens area there are five staple consignment shops: Agora, Minx, Community, Dynamite, and Cellies. They each have their own unique feel and their own clientele.
Some of the stores have secret buyers that the public is not allowed to know about like Dynamite. When asked about their seller’s employee Benjamin Garratt said, “If I was allowed to know, perhaps you would be allowed to know.”
The owner of Community, another staple vintage consignment shop was not in her usual corner of her shop sewing because she was traveling to some of her buyers to acquire new clothes for the coming months.
“We pretty much take anything that looks cool. said Hannah Hall, who works at Minx. “We don’t really have anything that sells particularly more than others because we don’t just sell what’s popular, we sell it all.”
Agora employee Beth Weigle is one of the 40 booth owners who reside inside the consignment shop.
“There’s about 40 vendors that rent space from the owner and they fill their booths so it’s like their own little store within the store. Each with their own aesthetic and look.”
This allows the owner and the venders to get a cut of the purchase.
At Cellies clothing store, however, they not only take clothes from local sellers but they also buy wholesale online and import some new clothes into the store as well.
When the economy started to take a turn for the worse these stores were still managing to stay afloat.
“In 2008 is when things started to get really bad.” Said Lindsay Haddadd, Cellies employee. “Its cheaper to buy used clothes, sometimes, depending on what clothes they are, but we stay open and doing well because of the simple fact that in 2008 people couldn’t afford new clothes.”
Along with people not able to afford new clothes some employees think that the Green movement has to do with the booming business. “Green washing has occurred, everything is green, your water bottle is green, your printer paper is green, your building collects water and has solar power so it’s green.” Said Emily Newdow, a Community employee.
According to National Geographic Americans throw away 68 pounds of clothing a year while buying 10 pounds of recycled clothes.
“In the sense of fashion being green, your outfits not being made in China in a sweatshop by a child. Its vintage, it was made a long time ago, and it was probably made here, its green in that aspect.” Newdow said.
Buying recycled clothes not only is good for the environment but its good for your wallet. These consignment shops are priced up to 50 percent cheaper than buying new clothes. Some shops will pay you for your other clothes and put money into your own pocket.
“We have stuff in here from 50 cents to $1000 dollars, anything from rubber chickens to vintage condom machines.”
These stores are growing in popularity amongst people in Athens and in the rest of Georgia. “I can only afford to shop at these stores.” Toni Sulmers, a schoolteacher from Atlanta said. “But I always do find nice things there, sometimes that haven’t even been worn before.”
These stores have been around for a long time and have shown a lot of staying power. “Dynamite’s been around for at least 10 years now, Agora came after us, and then Minx.” Garratt said.
If these stores have anything truly in common it would be their staying power. “Agora isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.” Weigle said, “These stores are ‘in’ Newdow said. “We’ll be here for a while,” Garratt said. They promise to be a presence in the downtown area for a long time and show no sign of leaving.